To eat or not to eat? This is a question that confronts us daily, as we go from home to work, work to home, and back again. We have designated times for breakfast and lunch. Dinner would be the only place where we really have any freedom as to the time we consume our meal. But do we really want something to eat? Are we really hungry? Or do we eat simply because the time to eat has arrived?
With generations prior to the 20th century, eating was an opportunity to stop and rest, and actually consume nutrition because your body told you it needed nourishment. Physical energy expenditures had used up whatever resources you had provided earlier. Physical work and a real lack of nutritional supplements kept the body in constant need of nourishment. That is a time past. Today, with the advent of the computer, physical activity is no longer a part of the work equation. We no longer lack for vitamins and minerals, thanks to the boom in the vitamin market.
Information is more readily available for us to learn about our individual needs, and regulate what we consume. But consumption and “programmed eating” is more rampant than ever. We watch television, and see something good to eat. What do we do? We go to the refrigerator and hunt something to eat. Our body hasn’t notified us of any real hunger. But our visual senses say, hmmm, that looks really good. I believe I’d like to consume some food.
There is a real difference in what we need to eat to stay alive, what we need to eat to stay healthy, and what we want to eat thanks to advertising and designated lunch hours. What we need to eat to stay alive is such a small portion of food; it surprises even the most prepared reader. Your body must consume only five to six hundred calories and lots of water to stay alive. When faced with life-threatening situations, your body will revert to a “starvation” mode. In other words, it cuts back on bodily functions to just bare minimums necessary for life. In this way, it cuts out any excess need for extra calories.
The calories intake necessary for healthy functioning is a level unique to each individual person and can range from around 1200 calories to over 2000. The amount of food we need to satisfy the advertising and programmed eating habits is over 3000. In other words, thanks to advertising and “It’s time to eat lunch” programming, we consume at least 1000 more calories than we need each day. This is why our nation is facing an obesity epidemic and our children need medically prescribed diets to lose weight.
If we could take a week and pay attention to what our body really says to us about its needs, we would be a healthier society without a lot of effort. It is because we listen to the advertisements, the restaurant menus, and the call of “it’s lunchtime, where are we gonna eat?” that we have problems now.